More COVID-19 info to go public this month |

More COVID-19 info to go public this month

The public will have access to more information on COVID-19 outbreaks in work places across industries starting this month.

Business owners are already subject to various notification requirements through state Department of Industrial Relations Emergency Temporary Standards.

When they learn an employee has had a COVID-19 exposure at the workplace, within one business day employers must notify all employees who may have had exposure.

They must also notify the pubic health department within 48 hours when there has been an outbreak — defined as three or more cases in an “exposed workplace” within 14 days — as well as immediately remove the exposed employees from work and provide testing.

Now Assembly Bill 685 will require local health departments to report that data to the state, which will post the industry information on its site.

The bill also codifies many provisions of the Emergency Temporary Standards, which give Cal/OSHA more citation and business shutdown authority, and outlines other employer requirements.

The county also expects to include COVID-19 deaths by age range and zip code in its dashboard by next week.

Figures for how many outbreaks have occurred in Nevada County were not immediately available, though officials described cases and/or outbreaks as being in “every sector you could think of.”

Grocery worker Bobby Lowell said he hopes the bill will bring more accountability for employers who shirk the requirements to protect their workers.

“It’s like they’re ambushing you,” Lowell said. “You’d want them to let you know (when there’s an outbreak) right away so you could watch your Ps and Qs. Hey, there was a positive test, be careful, you know.”

Lowell said without enforcement mechanisms, businesses and employees alike can take advantage of the new regulatory territory.

He said over New Year’s Eve he witnessed people both falsely claiming and denying COVID-19 symptoms to either get time off or extra hours over the holiday.

“They’ll just ask you those symptoms, they won’t pay attention to that you told five people you were sweating so much last night you sweated through your clothes, and now you’re working because you need the money,” Lowell said.

People can file a work place safety complaint by calling Cal/OSHA at 916-263-2800.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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